Leverage the Talent of Your Employees
Originally published: 01.01.21 by Erica Leonor
Even the most unlikely person can be successful if given the right direction, training and motivation.
I am an anthropologist, which means I love to learn about different people and cultures. For eight years of my life, I lived out of two suitcases as I moved around the world, participating in and studying different lifestyles, cultures and societies.
From attending international universities and learning different languages, to starting English programs at elementary schools and providing humanitarian services to refugees, I hustled to find opportunities totravel and see the world.
Because of my travels, I was frequently recruited to facilitate cultural awareness trainings and presentations for different organizations to help enlighten their employees on how to be more sensitive to and understanding of those from different parts of the world.
I loved sharing with others all of the unique and intricate aspects of the different cultures and countries I spent time with. Aside from all the fun adventures, friends and knowledge that traveling the world has brought me, I had a deeper hope that through sharing my experiences, I could be a bridge that would connect people from all different walks of life.
I wanted humanity to be more patient with each other, more understanding, more accepting and less judgmental of those who are different. I still want this today.
So, how did I end up working in the trades? A girl that didn’t even know how to work a thermostat, use a plunger or know what HVAC even stood for? And what does this have to do with leveraging the talent of your employees?
First off, just because I didn’t grow up in the trades or have any technical knowledge whatsoever does not mean I wouldn’t thrive in this industry. I now train contracting companies all over the United States, Canada and Australia on customer service, sales and the employee experience (and, I’m happy to say, I’m learning quite a bit of technical knowledge along the way).
I serve on the Board of Directors for Women in HVACR. I speak at different conferences and tradeshows and even write articles for trade publications like this. WHAT? Me? An anthropologist? Who’da thought.
I’m not trying to toot my own horn. What I’m trying to illustrate is that even the most unlikely person can be successful if given the right direction, training and motivation. Somebody took a chance on me. Somebody gave me an opportunity to apply the skills and experiences that I have had to a new industry and was willing to teach me along the way.
I am continually supported, trusted and empowered to not only be the best version of myself that I can be, but to also make a difference for others. I love what I get to do! Power Selling Pros has not only helped me apply the talents, skills and personality that I already had to customer service and sales in the trades, they have continually helped foster my growth and learning.
And with my background in culture, I also work with different companies like yourself on designing a great company culture.
You can do the same thing with your employees. Every single person that works for you has different talents, abilities and skills that would benefit your organization. You’ve all heard “hire for personality and then train on skills.”
Of course, you want employees who have natural grit, positive attitudes and great work ethic. But people have to enjoy what they do as well. And for your employees to enjoy what they do, you have to design a great place to work. It is vital they enjoy their jobs, believe in your brand promise and have a common purpose.
Your leadership and culture will directly affect your ability to leverage the talent of your employees.
Now it is interesting that one of the definitions of leverage is “use something to the maximum advantage.” I would ask that you do a self-check-in and make sure you are never taking advantage of your employees.
Being taken advantage of is one of the biggest reasons why people leave and go work for someone else. Here are some ways that employees have expressed to me how they feel taken advantage of in the workplace:
- Frequently staying late after everyone else has gone home
- Lack of recognition, appreciation and praise
- Constantly being handed more work without being given the OK, especially when those assignments are not in line with their job description
- Not being well compensated (whether it’s hourly rate or bonuses)
- Not having regular breaks during work and lack of time off
So, when we’re talking about leveraging, we are not talking about taking advantage of another person. What we are talking about is empowering your team to discover, utilize and apply their talents for the good of themselves, those they work with and for their customers.
Talent & Skill
I also want to unpack the definitions of two additional words:
- Talent: natural aptitude or skill
- Skill: The ability to do something well, expertise
As you can see, talent and skill go hand in hand. We are all born with different natural gifts and talents which is wonderful. We don’t need or want everyone to be the same or robotic. But just because we don’t have a natural talent for something doesn’t mean it will never be a talent.
If I want to be good at something, I have to practice it, sometimes over and over and over again. All of my skills can become talents if I apply myself, work hard, get training and stay consistent.
So, don’t worry if one of your employees is not naturally talented at something. If they have a strong background, good experiences and a cheerful disposition, you can teach them skills and habits. Sooner or later, these skills and habits will become talents. And when we are good at something, we want to keep doing it over and over again.
Empower Your Team
Here are a few steps I believe will help you empower your employees, train them on skills and watch them thrive using their talents.
- Have frequent one-on-ones with your employees to learn about them. It must be frequent and consistent if you are ever going to build enough trust for them to actually confide in you what they want to do and the skills they have. Don’t just bring them into the office one day and say, “Where do you want to be in 5 years?” This kind of topic needs to be thought out and could take weeks, even months, for a person to analyze their growth path.
- Be creative and think outside of the box. How could you leverage the talents of a photographer? A high school football star? An HOA board member? A baker? A movie buff? Everyone has a past, a hobby and interests. Just because they answer phones or run maintenance calls doesn’t mean there are no other projects or tasks that they can become involved in. Find creative ways that you can involve your people in the growth of your company.
- Provide consistent training. I would highly encourage you to have a training plan — a calendar of sorts — that you follow to invest in your employees and help them grow. The more you support the development of their skills, the more they will give you their all.
People are amazing. I also know they can be frustrating to work with at times. And maybe you or I are even frustrating to work with too. Nobody is perfect. And that is okay. But may we all have a little more patience, a lot more compassion, a stronger discipline and a greater desire to serve the people around us.
As a business owner and entrepreneur, you may have the vision of what needs to happen and where you want to go, but you can’t make it a reality alone. As you learn more about your people, invest in their growth, you’ll find more and more opportunities to leverage those talents for the good of all. Remember, your company culture is simply the promise you make about how you are all going to treat each other.